hayden-stork
Author

Hayden Stork | Columnist

Hayden Stork was a Mail Correspondent covering the Olympia communities, and now is the Mail Sports Columnist. He is from Danvers, Illinois, and is currently attending Kankakee Community College with a major in mass communications.

 


Five Sluggers Confirmed for 2022 Home Run Derby
Baseball

Five Sluggers Confirmed for 2022 Home Run Derby

The first to announce that he will be participating in this year’s Home Run Derby was Pete Alonso of the New York Mets. Alonso has won the past two Home Run Derby titles, making him just the third player ever to go back-to-back in the contest. He will now have his sights set on a third Derby win in a row, a feat no other player has accomplished. Alonso has hit 131 home runs in his two Derby appearances and set a single-round record in 2021 when he hit 35 homers in his first-round matchup.  READ MORE...

Baseball  |  
2022 MLB Mid Season Recap

2022 MLB Mid Season Recap

I have the St. Louis Cardinals at number ten halfway through the season. The Cardinals have a record of 44-38 and are in second in the NL Central behind the Brewers. St. Louis has not won or lost more than two games in a row since June 14. While the offense has been electric for the Cardinals, being led by MVP front-runner Paul Goldschmidt, the Cardinals could really benefit from another solid arm in their starting rotation. 

College Baseball  |  
Ole Miss Wins College World Series

Ole Miss Wins College World Series

In the first game of the College World Series Finals between Ole Miss and Oklahoma, the Rebels made a statement, winning game one 10-3. Ole Miss opened the game fast by scoring two runs in the first inning with two outs. The Rebels’ two-out success continued in the second inning as another run crossed the plate to push the lead to 3-0 after the top of the second inning. In the third inning, Ole Miss’ first baseman Tim Elko homered to right field to push the lead to 4-0. While the Rebels' offense was putting up runs nearly every inning, Ole Miss pitcher Jack Dougherty was putting on a show on the mound to open the game. Dougherty had a perfect game bid going into the sixth inning before Oklahoma opened up the inning with a single up the middle. Dougherty’s perfect five innings was the longest perfect game bid in the College World Series since the NCAA tournament expanded in 1999. After the hit to lead off the sixth for Oklahoma, the Sooners' offense finally showed up and cut the lead to 4-2 after six innings. After a couple of scoreless innings, Ole Miss’ TJ McCants, Calvin Harris, and Justin Bench broke the game open in the top of the eighth, hitting back-to-back-to-back home runs. The Rebels went up 8-3 after the eighth. Ole Miss then brought in two more runs in the top of the ninth inning and closed the game out in the bottom half of the inning to win game one 10-3. 

Basketball  |  
Warriors Win NBA Finals

Warriors Win NBA Finals

Curry has had two of the same guys by his side for a lot of his success in Golden State, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. These three have seen a great amount of success together, winning all four of their championships together, with some different pieces here and there. Easily the most impactful piece the Warriors have had during their historic dynasty was future hall of famer, Kevin Durant. Durant joined the Warriors through free agency before the 2016-2017 season and Golden State went on to win back to back championships in 2017 and 2018, with Durant winning the Finals MVP in both years. Adding Durant to a Warriors team that already proved that they could win an NBA Finals Championship in 2015 pushed Golden State into the territory of being talked about as one of the greatest teams in NBA history. Many fans though, argued that signing a player like Kevin Durant and forming a “super team” discredited the original Warriors players that were there for the start of the dynasty in 2015. The way that the original guys, like Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, were able to win another championship after losing Durant really solidifies this Warriors core as one of the greatest to ever play. 

College Baseball  |  
2022 College World Series Preview

2022 College World Series Preview

In the Knoxville Super Regional, Notre Dame upset number 1 overall Tennessee. The Irish became the first team to win a road series in Knoxville all season. This will be Notre Dame’s first appearance in the College World Series since 2002 and just their third time in Omaha ever. 

Baseball  |  
Angels Fire Manager Joe Maddon

Angels Fire Manager Joe Maddon

The Angels are 6-19 since their 21-11 start and have a 30 percent chance of making the postseason. Just a few weeks ago, on May 15, the Angels had one of the best chances at making the postseason in the MLB at 81 percent. The Angels are now 11 ½ games behind the sixth and final American League wild-card spot. The 12-game losing streak has been a Murphy’s Law losing streak, meaning that anything that could possibly go wrong for the Angels is going wrong. Two of their star players Anthony Rendon and Taylor Ward are out with injuries, leaving the lineup extremely thin behind superstars Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. The Angels starting rotation has come back down to Earth after an excellent start to the season.

Basketball  |  
Preview of the 2022 NBA Finals

Preview of the 2022 NBA Finals

This season, the Celtics finished 51-31 and earned the second seed in the Eastern Conference, only two games behind the Miami Heat. After the first 50 games of the NBA regular season, the Celtics did not look like they would be title contenders. The team was only 25-25 and there were rumors swirling about potentially breaking up the star duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to provide more balance to the offense. Instead of giving in to the negativity, the Celtics managed to have one of the most impressive stretches in recent NBA history. The Celtics drew the Brooklyn Nets for their first-round matchup. Boston made a statement in this opening series against the Nets. The Celtics swept Brooklyn 4-0 to move to the second round, where they would take on the reigning champion Milwaukee bucks. The Bucks gave Boston everything they had, they were even up 3-2 going into game 6 in Milwaukee. The Celtics had an incredible road performance in that game 6 to push the series to a deciding game 7 in Boston. The Celtics were able to win that game easily and make it to the Eastern Conference Finals. This series went to another game 7, where the Celtics continued their streak of not losing back-to-back games in the postseason, setting up a Finals trip to take on the Golden State Warriors. 

Baseball  |  
Aaron Judge's Hot Start

Aaron Judge's Hot Start

This impressive start to the season from Judge could result in a massive paycheck for the big right fielder, this upcoming offseason. If Judge is able to continue the absolute tear that he has been on throughout the first 40 games of the season, he will easily be in the conversation for the American League Most Valuable Player Award, which he came in at fourth place for just last season. With a huge season like this and his rookie contract with the Yankees coming to a close at the end of the season, Judge will most likely be entertaining a lot of different options, which could mean a new home for a potential AL MVP. Now the actual chance of Judge leaving New York after this season may not be too high but, if a team is able to outbid the Yankees in the offseason, there could be a chance that Aaron Judge would be somewhere else next year. This is why it is huge for Aaron Judge that he is having a monster start to his season, because the better he does, the more he gets paid by whoever ends up getting him for next season. It would be pretty difficult for Yankees fans and honestly just baseball fans in general to see Judge in any uniform besides the Yankees pinstripes, but it is a possibility and that will be an interesting thing to watch unfold after this baseball season is over. 

Baseball  |  
Reds Throw Combined No-Hitter and Lose

Reds Throw Combined No-Hitter and Lose

The Pirates became the sixth team in big league history since 1901 to win despite not getting any hits. This baseball rarity last took place in 2008, when Jered Weaver and Jose Arredondo of the Angels lost to the Dodgers while no hitting them. The other four occurrences happened to the Red Sox in 1992, the Yankees in 1990, the Orioles in 1967, and the Colt .45s in 1964. Despite his great performance, Hunter Greene took the loss in this game, dropping his rookie record to 1-6 on the year. Greene became the first pitcher to throw seven hitless innings and take a loss since Matt Young of the Red Sox in 1992. In Greene’s no-hit start against the Pirates, he fired seven heaters at 100 mph or faster. He also mixed in sharp sliders and effective changeups throughout his start, sitting down Pirate hitters almost in order, the only exception being a couple of walks. Toward the end of his start, in the eight inning, Greene looked to be running out of gas. After the game, he admitted that he was getting tired. Greene said, “But then again, there’s the mental part of, you know, ‘I’m fine. I’m not getting tired.’” Hunter Greene was the second overall pick in the 2017 amateur draft. He ended up suffering an injury in 2018 that required Tommy John surgery in 2019. He made the Reds’ big league roster for the first time coming out of spring training this season. In just Greene’s second start of the season, the flamethrower set an MLB record with 39 pitches over 100 mph, but he also had a 7.62 earned run average and led the league in home runs allowed this season with 11 going into Sunday’s game. This young stud seems to be coming into his own, so that’s at least one bright spot for Reds fans this season. 

Baseball  |  
Reid Detmers Throws No-Hitter

Reid Detmers Throws No-Hitter

Detmers really only had one close call throughout the night. It came with one out in the top of the seventh inning when Tampa Bay’s Brett Phillips hit a decently hard ground ball to the right of the first baseman Jared Walsh. The ball bounced off Walsh’s glove then he dropped the ball trying to get Phillips, who has some speed. Although it was most likely going to be an error, everyone in the stadium held their breath until it was put up as an error on the scoreboard, maintaining the no-hitter. Other than this play, Detmers hardly had any close calls. He retired the first 15 hitters before walking the leadoff man in the sixth inning. Heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, the Angels were already up 8-0, so the Rays brought in a position player, Brett Phillips, to pitch. Los Angeles ended up putting up four more runs off Phillips, including an incredible two-run home run from Anthony Rendon, who batted left-handed instead of from his usual right side. In the top of the ninth inning, Detmers was only three outs away from his no-hitter. Detmers did what he had been doing all night, getting soft contact for easy outs and put away the Rays in order in the ninth and the celebration began. Detmers thanked the crowd in his postgame interview saying, “You guys are awesome! I don’t even know what to say. Thank you for coming out.”

Baseball  |  
Dusty Baker Gets 2,000th Win

Dusty Baker Gets 2,000th Win

Dusty Baker started his MLB career as an outfielder for the Braves in 1968. Although he started his career in Atlanta, most of Baker’s accomplishments in his playing career came in Los Angeles with the Dodgers. Baker made two National League All-Star teams in 1981 and 1982. While Baker was with the Dodgers, they won the National League pennant in 1977, 1978, and 1981. In their 1977 NL Championship, Baker was awarded the first-ever National League Championship Series Most Valuable Player award. In the 1981 season, Baker ended up winning his only World Series as a player, in 1981 with the Dodgers. Many people also believe that Baker took part in the first-ever high five during his playing career. ESPN even made a 30 for 30 documentary called The High Five, which claims that Baker executed the first-ever high five. 

Baseball  |  
Seiya Suziki's Hot Start

Seiya Suziki's Hot Start

Seiya Suzuki’s pure talent has been very impressive to the Cubs’ organization and to their fans, but one thing that is not necessarily noticed on the field about Suzuki is that he has been a great clubhouse guy for the Cubs so far. One of the only guys left from the 2016 World Series team, Wilson Contreras was quoted saying this about Suzuki, “He’s the best player I’ve ever played with, to be honest. His plate discipline is insane. Everything that he does on the field, the way he takes care of himself on and off the field is amazing.” Contreras has played with some of the MLB’s best players in his six years with the Chicago Cubs. Guys like Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, and even Jake Arrieta come to mind. All huge pieces of the World Series team in 2016. Even after being asked about some of those guys, Contreras showed his respect for them, but still said, “I’ve been around with the Cubs in the big leagues for six years and he’s the best player I’ve ever played with.” Some Cubs fans may want to disagree with Contreras and believe that either Bryant, Rizzo, or Baez has to be the best player Contreras has played in his career. It is very interesting that just 18 games into his first MLB season, Contreras is giving Suzuki such high praise. Although it may sound a little bit crazy, I would think that Contreras knows talent when he sees it, especially after playing with some great players in his early years with the Cubs. So, if Wilson Contreras really knows a talented baseball player when he sees one, maybe he’s right about Suzuki being the best player he’s ever played with. After all, the numbers that Suzuki has put up so far would support Contreras’ claim. Suzuki definitely has a ton of talent and a very professional hitting approach. It will be a lot of fun to watch Seiya progress in the MLB. Who knows, maybe the Cubs just signed a future MVP and Hall of Famer in Seiya Suzuki. 

Football  |  
2022 NFL Draft Preview

2022 NFL Draft Preview

While there is not actually a clear-cut number one overall pick, like there was in last year’s NFL Draft, there is plenty of talent that could be taken with the Jacksonville Jaguars' first overall pick. After finishing the 2021 season with a record of just 3-14, the Jags could really use help at any position, besides quarterback after drafting generational prospect Trevor Lawrence with the first overall pick in last year's draft. Since the Jaguars are in need at multiple different positions, this puts them in a situation where they can’t really go wrong. In the eyes of many NFL analysts, the Jaguars will either go with a defensive line or an offensive line prospect. Some of the names that are most likely being heavily considered by the Jaguars are Aidan Hutchinson, an edge rusher from Michigan, Kayvon Thibodeaux, an edge rusher from Oregon, Ikem Ekwonu, an offensive tackle from North Carolina State, Evan Neal, an offensive tackle from Alabama, or Travon Walker, a defensive lineman from Georgia. This is clearly a fairly large selection of players for just one pick, but I really don’t think that the Jaguars can go wrong with any of these guys.

Baseball  |  
Jackie Robinson Day in Baseball

Jackie Robinson Day in Baseball

In his ten year career with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Jackie Robinson had plenty of career highlights and awards. Robinson was a 6 time all-star, a World Series champion, won a National League Most Valuable Player award, won the MLB Rookie of the Year, a National League batting title, and a 2 time National League stolen base leader. Along with all of these awards, Jackie Robinson was able to have a career batting average of .313 with 141 home runs and 761 RBIs. Robinsons impressive career stats and awards earned him a spot in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. For Jackie Robinson to be able to accomplish everything that he did just as a baseball player is extremely impressive considering the racial discrimination that he faced day in and day out. 

Baseball  |  
Chicago White Sox Season Preview

Chicago White Sox Season Preview

Offensively, the White Sox have one of the most talented lineups from top to bottom in the MLB. They have a very young, dynamic, and explosive style offensively if they can stay healthy. One of the most impressive things about this White Sox offense last year was their incredible plate discipline. Most of the time in the MLB, teams with a lot of younger guys with a lot of raw talent may struggle with strikeouts and not taking their walks but last season, the White Sox were fourth in the league in walks and had the third-best on-base percentage in the MLB. With star shortstop Tim Anderson leading off and big-time power bats in Jose Abreu, Yoan Moncada, and Eloy Jimenez, the White Sox should have a lot of confidence in their top hitters this season. The White Sox also went out and got second baseman Josh Harrison for the 2022 season. Second base was a pretty weak spot overall for the White Sox last season. Harrison will provide another veteran presence, along with Abreu, along with another solid bat in the lineup. The only question marks as of now for the White Sox offensively are right field and the DH. The White Sox do have a couple of really good options for these two spots, but time will tell who ends up standing out the most between guys like Adam Engel, Andrew Vaughn, and Gavin Sheets. 

Baseball  |  
Chicago Cubs Season Preview

Chicago Cubs Season Preview

The Cubs have made some major additions to their MLB roster during this offseason, maybe the most notable being the Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki. Chicago signed Suzuki to an $85 million contract over five years. Suzuki has been identified as a very talented five-tool player. Last year, Suzuki was so good in the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan that almost any MLB team would have wanted to sign him to be their starting right fielder. The team also went out and signed Andrelton Simmons to a club-friendly contract to add some depth at the shortstop position. The Cubs will also expect the highly-anticipated Frank Schwindel to continue smashing the ball at the plate in his sophomore season. Schwindel should be a huge part of the Cubs offense in the middle of the lineup this season. Guys like Nico Hoerner, Ian Happ, and Nick Madrigal will continue to bring their young talents to the Cubs lineup and keep developing their skills. Chicago also picked up Clint Frazier to be the team’s starting left fielder. I personally think this could be a really sneaky good pickup for the Cubs. Frazier was having a great year last season before coming down with a case of vertigo. As long as he stays healthy, Frazier could have a solid impact in the middle of the Cubs lineup. 

Football  |  
Indianapolis Colts Trade for Former MVP

Indianapolis Colts Trade for Former MVP

Matt Ryan has been the starting quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons since 2008 and went to 4 pro bowls in his time there. Ryan also took the team to a Super Bowl, where they would lose to the Patriots in one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history. Ryan also has had a couple of impressive individual accomplishments as a Falcon. After his rookie season, Ryan was named the AFC Offensive Rookie of the Year. In the best season of his NFL career in 2016, Matt Ryan won the NFL Most Valuable Player and the AFC Offensive Player of the Year. Despite some struggles in recent years from Ryan, he had a very successful 14-year career in Atlanta, and he proved to be a more consistent and statistically superior quarterback to Carson Wentz. Over the last five seasons, Ryan has only missed one game compared to Wentz’s 12. Ryan also totaled the second-most passing yards of any NFL quarterback during those five seasons. This passing yard stat doesn’t just come from an increased volume of passing, Ryan is consistently in the top-10 in a variety of quarterback stats. Ryan has the ninth highest completion rate of 66.5 percent since 2017, with the sixth-most 20-yard passes, and the seventh-most passing touchdowns. Last season with the Falcons, Ryan somehow managed to lead the Flacons to a 7-10 record with one of the weaker rosters in the NFL. The Falcons had one of the worst rushing offenses in the league, ranking in the bottom three for total yardage and yards per carry. Atlanta was also in the bottom of the league on defense, allowing the fourth-most points of any team. For Matt Ryan, he is going into Indianapolis looking forward to a much better situation. The Colts have basically excelled in pretty much every aspect of the game except for quarterback ever since Andrew Luck retired. 

Football  |  
Tom Brady Comes Out of Retirement

Tom Brady Comes Out of Retirement

Brady will turn 45 during training camp, which will fulfill his once-mocked goal of playing until he was 45. Even at his historically old NFL age, Brady will enter the season with the active “ironman” streak among quarterbacks. He has started 107 games in a row and has missed no games due to injury since 2009. Brady’s health is something that has definitely played a role in him becoming one of the greatest athletes of all time. His longevity has allowed him to play in 48 playoff games, almost equivalent to three full 17-game regular seasons. The average length of a typical NFL quarterback’s career is only 4.44 years. Of course, this number accounts for all quarterbacks, including backups and third-stringers, but this still shows that longevity has been scarce among quarterbacks in the NFL. Going into his 23rd season, 20 with the New England Patriots, and 2 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Brady has the longest career among active NFL players but will be tied for 5th on the longest all time NFL careers after his 23rd season. 

Baseball  |  
Baseball Lockout Comes to an End

Baseball Lockout Comes to an End

As far as what is next for the MLB, let's go over some key things for this season. Spring training camps opened with a voluntary report date on March 11 and a mandatory report date on March 13. Spring training days will start on March 17. Free agency started immediately after the collective bargaining agreement was ratified. MLB’s Opening Day will be April 7 and a full 162-game schedule will be played. The 12 team playoff format begins this season and the National League will also adopt the designated hitter starting this season. As far as spring training goes, it could be one of the most exciting spring training periods that the MLB and its fans will ever see. There will be big-name free agent signings and major trades being worked out during spring training camps, because of the lockout that restricted these negotiations from taking place for over three months. Getting a deal done as soon as possible was key for the MLB to be sure they did not lose too many fans. If the negotiations held back a full season of baseball from its fans, there would be a number of fans that would be disappointed in the MLB. Since the MLB and the MLB Players Association were able to work out a deal and salvage a full MLB season, baseball fans are very excited to watch their favorite stars make big plays and hit home runs all summer long. With some absolute studs still looking for a team to give them the right contract before the season, it will be a lot of fun to see where some of the game's biggest stars will end up for the 2022 season. Star shortstops Carlos Correa and Trevor Story will be looking to sign big-money deals. 2020 NL MVP Freddie Freeman is also looking for a new contract, even though it is highly likely that he will return to the Atlanta Braves. Other sluggers that are available include Nick Castellanos, Kris Bryant, Michael Conforto, Kyle Schwarber, and Anthony Rizzo. It will be very exciting for baseball fans to see where these guys end up for the 2022 season and it will be even more exciting to watch the season unfold after it was uncertain that the season would even happen at points during the lockout.

Football  |  
Bears Hire New Head Coach and GM

Bears Hire New Head Coach and GM

Poles is a 36-year old who has spent his entire front office career with the Kansas City Chiefs and has held many different positions in both the scouting and player personnel departments. Most recently, Poles was the executive director of player personnel for the Chiefs, before getting his first general manager job with the Bears. Poles seemed to excel in his respective role with the Chiefs and this should make Bears fans excited to see what he can do. Poles has a very impressive scouting background. From 2010 to 2016, Poles held positions in the college scouting department, first as an administrator, then as a coordinator. The Chiefs had plenty of key draft selections during those years, such as linebacker Justin Houston, center Rodney Hudson, defensive tackle Dontari Poe, tackle Eric Fisher, tight end Travis Kelce, linebacker Dee Ford, cornerback Marcus Peters, defensive tackle Chris Jones, and wide receiver Tyreek Hill. All of these players have made at least one Pro Bowl during their careers. Poles saved his best for last though, as the director of college scouting in 2017, he played a major role in selecting quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Poles also has played a role in some key transactions with the Chiefs such as signing safety Tyrann Mathieu, trading Dee Ford to bring in Frank Clark from Seattle, claiming defensive end Terrell Suggs, and rebuilding the offensive line, something the Bears desperately need. After just four days of being the Bears general manager, Ryan Poles found his head coach, Matt Eberflus, former Colts defensive coordinator. 

College Basketball  |  
Race for the Big Ten Regular Season Champion

Race for the Big Ten Regular Season Champion

Purdue is currently at the top of the rankings by themselves with only three games left to play, one of which being against Wisconsin. Despite the Boilermakers winning eight of their last nine games, they have not looked very good in their last three games. Purdue had an embarrassing loss to a Michigan team that has self-destructed since the upset, almost had another terrible loss at home to a Maryland team that is number twelve in the Big Ten but they held on for a one-point win, and most recently the Boilermakers nearly allowed the eleventh ranked Northwestern Wildcats to comeback late in the game. With much stronger teams like Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Indiana left on their schedule, there is no guarantee that this talented Purdue team will stay on the top of the Big Ten after one more week of regular season basketball.

Football  |  
Rams Defense Cement Win Against Bengals

Rams Defense Cement Win Against Bengals

Possibly the biggest performance of them all came from the Rams defense in the second half. They absolutely shut down the Bengals offense and set their offense up with many opportunities to score. Led by future Hall of Famer and arguably the greatest defensive player of all time, Aaron Donald, the Rams defensive line took over the game in the third quarter. Their defensive front sacked Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow seven times throughout the game, with five of those sacks coming in the third quarter. This was a huge momentum swing, in favor of the Rams, after the momentum had been fairly neutral throughout the first half. The Rams seven sacks on Burrow tied the Super Bowl record. The Rams desperately needed this defensive outburst after their offense came out shaky in the second half. On the first play of the second half, Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford threw an interception. This play made it seem like the Bengals had a chance to run away with the game, but the Rams held them to a field goal on the possession after the interception. The Bengals would not end up scoring for the rest of the game. 

Football  |  
Rams Host Bengals for Super Bowl LVI

Rams Host Bengals for Super Bowl LVI

The Cincinnati Bengals are coming into Super Bowl LVI with a 13-7 record and were also the number four seed in the AFC coming into the NFL playoffs. Like the Rams, the Bengals also won their division, as they dominated the AFC North and earned their spot in the playoffs. In the wild card round, the Bengals played a close back and forth game with the Las Vegas Raiders. The Bengals' defense would step up in that game making multiple stops to shut down the Raiders' offense, sending the Bengals to the divisional round of the playoffs. In the divisional round of the playoffs, the Bengals would travel to Tennessee to face the top-seeded Titans. A combination of another stellar defensive performance and clutch offensive playmaking from the Bengals pushed them past the Titans and into the AFC Championship. On the road again, the Bengals took the trip to Kansas City where they faced off against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. This game was the fourth year in a row that the AFC Championship featured the Chiefs, so this team has had its fair share of success in recent years. That didn’t stop the Bengals from making an incredible second-half comeback and winning the game on a field goal in overtime, sending them to the Super Bowl. This Bengals team also has a lot of star power and household names. Guys like quarterback Joe Burrow who is just in his second year, rookie wide receiver Jamarr Chase, rookie kicker who has nailed two game-winners in the playoffs so far Evan McPherson, and a defense with plenty of studs. The Cincinnati Bengals haven’t been to the Super Bowl since 1988 and have not won a Super Bowl in their franchise’s history. They now have that opportunity and have a legitimate shot to beat the Rams in Los Angeles and finish one of the best postseason runs in recent history with a Super Bowl victory.

Football  |  
NFL Championship Sunday

NFL Championship Sunday

The second game of Championship Sunday was between a pair of teams that have both had their fair share of success in recent years. The Los Angeles Rams, the host of the NFC Championship game, last appeared in the Super Bowl in 2018, where they lost to the New England Patriots. The San Francisco 49ers traveled to Los Angeles to face the Rams for a chance to go to the Super Bowl. The Niners last appeared in the 2019 Super Bowl, where they were handed their first Super Bowl loss in franchise history against the Kansas City Chiefs. This game was poised for a great battle between two franchises that have seen plenty of success in the last five years. The 49ers lead the Rams 17-7 heading into the fourth quarter of the game. The Niners’ defense was doing an outstanding job of containing a very high-powered Rams offense through three quarters, but in the fourth, the Rams offense came to life. San Francisco allowed the Rams to score on three straight possessions in the 4th quarter. The Rams’ star wide receiver, Cooper Kupp, was on the receiving end of the Rams’ two touchdowns. Kupp’s 11 receptions for 142 yards helped the Rams come back from that 10 point deficit and beat the 49ers 20-17. The Super Bowl matchup is set. The Super Bowl will take place at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles and for the second year in a row, one of the teams in the Super Bowl will be playing at their home stadium. The Bengals will travel to Los Angeles on February 13th to face the Rams in Super Bowl LVI. There are many great stories to follow in this game. Joe Burrow’s chance to immediately become one of the best quarterbacks in the league, Matthew Stafford could finally get his ring, arguably the best defensive player ever in Aaron Donald could also win his first Super Bowl. There are plenty things to be excited for in this years Super Bowl. 

Football  |  
NFL Playoffs Divisional Round

NFL Playoffs Divisional Round

Starting last Saturday, the Bengals traveled to Tennessee to take on the top-seeded Titans. This game was a defensive battle from the very beginning after Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw an interception on the very first play of the game. The Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow somehow survived being sacked nine times and became the first quarterback to be sacked nine times and win a playoff game. The Bengals had their struggles protecting their first overall pick from the 2019 NFL Draft, but they held on and defeated the Titans 19-16. Cincinnati’s kicker Evan Mcpherson kicked the game-winning field goal as time ran out to send the Bengals to the AFC Championship game. 

Football  |  
NFL Playoffs

NFL Playoffs

The results of Wildcard Weekend set up an exciting Divisional round of the NFL playoffs. The Bengals vs the Titans and the 49ers vs the Packers will both have already been played on Saturday. On Sunday, the Rams will play the Buccaneers and the Bills will travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs. Since the Saturday games will have already been played by the time this story is published, let’s take a look at the Sunday games. The first of the two matchups will be the game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Early in the NFL season, the Buccaneers travelled to Los Angeles to play the Rams in week 3. The Rams came away with a ten-point victory in this game. The Rams are coming off one of their most impressive wins of the season in last weekend’s Wildcard round. Los Angeles beat the Cardinals by 23 points. The Buccaneers also had an impressive win last weekend, but over a Philadelphia Eagles team that is very inexperienced in the playoffs. With Tom Brady at quarterback for the Buccaneers, this matchup between them and the Rams will definitely be an exciting one to watch. 

Football  |  
Chicago Bears Fire Matt Nagy

Chicago Bears Fire Matt Nagy

Although the coaching was fairly miserable all season, Bears fans are left with hope after a very disappointing year overall. Chicago’s rookie quarterback, Justin Fields, showed many flashes of a potential superstar quarterback. His overall stats do not look great at all, but Fields made several plays throughout the season that left Bears fans wondering they had finally gotten “that guy.” Other than Fields, the Bears have some key pieces on offense that had good seasons. Despite having three different quarterbacks throw to him throughout the year, Darnell Mooney was able to have his first 1,000-yard receiving season. Running backs David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert showed flashes and have the potential to be a very good combo next season. The defense struggled at times, but Robert Quinn had an excellent season, breaking the Bears’ single-season sack record with 18 sacks. Next year having Quinn paired with a healthy Khalil Mack will be something for Bears fans to look forward to next season. 

College Football  |  
Football Bowl Games

Football Bowl Games

The Cure Bowl was an exciting matchup between the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers and the Northern Illinois Huskies. This was only the second bowl game of the season, but it was a truly incredible battle. Not only did this game have a ton of points scored, with a final score of 47-41 Coastal Carolina coming out on top, but it was a one-score game throughout the entire game. The largest lead at any point during this game was when Northern Illinois was ahead by 8 in the first half. This game had nonstop, back-and-forth football entertainment. Neither team’s offense could be stopped. This game came down to the final play, when the Chanticleers’ defense stood tall, stopping the Huskies just short of the end zone to win the game. 

Best of 2021  |  
Police Department Stays, For Now

Police Department Stays, For Now

Armington’s Village Board requested that their residences provide them with their opinion of the situation prior to the meeting on Tuesday night. At the meeting, the board went through many letters and emails from Armington residences and according to the Armington Village President, Eric Boesdorfer, “The majority of them wanted some kind of police coverage.” It was clear that residents would prefer that the Armington Police Department would stay. Heavily considering these opinions, the board had their meeting on Tuesday night and made their decision. 

Best of 2021  |  
The City of Atlanta’s Tourism Department

The City of Atlanta’s Tourism Department

This summer Atlanta’s Tourism Department has a great plan to drive tourists to the town. They will be doing free guided walking tours in June, July, and August on Fridays and Saturdays from 10am to 2pm. They will provide tourists that do the walking tours an Atlanta informational booklet that they can find other enjoyable activities to do during their time in the town. They are also working to create new visual graphics for social media to help promote their events. They have many different events scheduled for this summer such as the car cruise-in at Dairy Queen with a band on May 30th, the 4th of July festivities on July 3rd that include baseball games, golf tour promotion for first time visitors, Country-Aire providing package for dinner, and there will be a band playing for 3 hours leading up to fireworks. After the 4th of July festivities, there is still the Market Weekend on Route 66 July 17th and 18th. 

Best of 2021  |  
Winner Will Be Drawn From a Hat

Winner Will Be Drawn From a Hat

Tuesday afternoon, the official vote totals were posted and showed that the race for the third village trustee was still tied at 78 votes. Many of the other elected positions in Danvers were decided on April 6th, but the third village trustee position is a rare occurrence. There are a few ways that the village can decide to break the tie. A couple of these tiebreakers include drawing from a hat or flipping a coin. Kathy Michael, McLean County Clerk, has decided that a name will be drawn on Monday, April 26th, to decide who the winner will be. This drawing will be held at 1:30pm in the government center, where two election judges are involved in the drawing under strict review. Both candidates and the public can attend the drawing. After the drawing, the losing candidate can ask for a discovery recount if desired. 

Best of 2021  |  
Danvers Lions Club

Danvers Lions Club

One of the many outstanding impacts that the Danvers Lions Club has recently had on the Danvers community is sponsoring a youth baseball travel team for this summer. The Danvers Lions Club’s generosity has given kids anywhere from nine to twelve years old a great opportunity to play travel summer baseball. A few people from the Danvers Lions baseball team have told me how grateful they are to have the Danvers Lions Club as a sponsor. Coach Ron Stork told me, “The Danvers Lions Club’s sponsorship they gave our team was really important for our team to get proper equipment for the season. It aided us in getting new uniforms, helmets, and other equipment. They really helped us out in a big way.” 

Best of 2021  |  
Hopedale Betterment Association

Hopedale Betterment Association

The $500 scholarship that is offered to high school seniors in the Olympia School District is probably one of the most popular things that the Hopedale Betterment Association is known for. This scholarship has impacted many students over the years. The Hopedale Betterment Association believes that improving the quality of life in Hopedale starts with the youth in the community, which lead them to start this scholarship. They look for a senior that has shown leadership through extracurricular and community activities and vision for the future of the community. Applications for the scholarship are judged based on SAT scores, class standing, counselor’s recommendation, other favorable recommendations, community involvement, extracurricular involvement, and an essay regarding what you would do to improve the community of Hopedale. The Betterment Association is always looking for ways to improve Hopedale and ways of encouraging positivity, which is exactly what the scholarship has done. 

Best of 2021  |  
The Origins of Hopedale

The Origins of Hopedale

Fast forward to modern day Hopedale, and I would imagine that the Orendorff family is proud of what the village has become. The thriving small town had a population of 865 at the last census. In addition to a growing population, Hopedale is also home to many essential businesses in the community, including the Hopedale Medical Complex. Many of Hopedale’s citizens and even people in the surrounding area use the Hopedale Medical Complex because of it’s convenience. Hopedale also hosts a very popular 4th of July festival each year that has gained more and more attendees each year. The people of Hopedale have a town to be proud of and I think it’s safe to say that Aaron Orendorff would be impressed with Hopedale. 

Best of 2021  |  
Ethan Davis’ Incredible Multi-Sport Performance

Ethan Davis’ Incredible Multi-Sport Performance

Ethan has been the Spartan’s quarterback since the last half of his sophomore season. With new coach Eric Lyons coming in before the start of his sophomore year, Ethan and his talented class had a great opportunity to have a fresh start coming off of Olympia’s multiple winless seasons in prior years. Davis and his class took advantage of this opportunity and improved the program every year, seeing more players, more wins, and better culture. The leadership role taken on by Ethan helped the program have a chance to improve. 

Best of 2021  |  
Minier Corn Daze

Minier Corn Daze

One thing that makes the Minier Corn Daze unique is that any group, organization, or company can buy a 10x10 vendor space for $25. This gives any group, organization, or business a great opportunity to make connections with possible customers in their community. There are fifty vendor spaces available this year at the Minier Corn Daze, so there will be plenty of opportunity for each and every group, organization, or business to interact with locals enjoying the Corn Daze. The Minier Corn Daze event coordinator will also try to limit the number of similar vendors for the event, making for a good variety of things for the customers to look at and a good way to guarantee that each vendor’s product will be unique. 

Best of 2021  |  
Olympia Kiwanis Club

Olympia Kiwanis Club

One of the community's favorite events that the Olympia Kiwanis Club hosts has been the Minier Christmas Parade. This past Minier Christmas Parade was a big success. After months of social distancing and uncertainty, the Olympia community was very grateful to be able to celebrate Christmas alongside their close-knit community. There is a lot of hard work from the Olympia Kiwanis Club that is put into the Minier Christmas Parade each year. Club members help make sure everything runs smoothly, Sue Miller helps with promotion, the Minier Village office also helps with promotion by posting on Minier.com, Brian Foley helps with his line up team, K’s Cafe provides food, Walters Trucking provides a flatbed truck used for announcing, Dave Renfrow does the announcing, Dr. Gilly plays Christmas Music, Minier police officers escort the parade, and the Minier Department of Public Works helps set up the announcer's booth and decorate the town tree that Olympia West students make ornaments for. As I’m sure you can tell, it takes a lot of effort for the Minier Christmas Parade to be successful, and that is all started by the Olympia Kiwanis Club. 

Best of 2021  |  
Olympia 4H Pacesetters

Olympia 4H Pacesetters

Emergency Mini Food Pantries are food boxes that are available to the community at any time. Insulated metal boxes are used to protect the food from rough weather and to ensure that there is access to the food all year round. The Hunger Ambassadors have been tracking how much food gets taken out of them, and are finding that they are indeed providing people who are without food a very important service. 

Best of 2021  |  
Dustin Carter

Dustin Carter

Chief Carter started his career as a Reserve Deputy with the McLean County Sheriff's Office in 2001. He then started working in Lexington, Colfax, and Stanford as a part-time officer. Covering these three different towns, Chief Carter sometimes works four or five nights a week on top of his full-time position, which is in the technology department for a large insurance and financial services company. Chief Carter is also a Field Training Officer that has helped train new police officers after they graduate from the police academy. In 2017, Dustin Carter became the Chief of Police in Stanford, after being on the roster as an officer in Stanford since 2015. Chief Carter says, “While it’s a serious job, I try not to take myself so seriously, and remember the badge doesn't make me any more special than those without one, but certainly comes with great responsibility and accountability.” Chief Carter is nearing his 20-year mark in law enforcement, he says, “I genuinely enjoy the opportunity to give back to the communities I serve, helping people get through, oftentimes, sensitive and challenging periods in their lives, and most importantly, keeping people safe.” 

Best of 2021  |  
The Sip Shack

The Sip Shack

The Sip Shack’s drive-thru hours are Monday - Friday from 6 AM - 4 PM and the gift shop hours are Monday - Friday from 10 AM - 4 PM. On Saturdays, the drive through will be open from 7 AM - 12 PM and the gift shop will be open from 8 AM - 12 PM. With all the hours that they will be open throughout the week, The Sip Shack will be a very convenient place for anyone to stop and get a refreshment. The Sip Shack is mainly a drive thru coffee hut, but they do have a small gift shop and a counter to order inside. Although there is no indoor seating in The Sip Shack, they do have a couple of outdoor tables and picnic tables if customers would want to sit outside to enjoy their drinks. The Sip Shack also offers a list of pastries from Grove Street Bakery, a local bakery located in Bloomington. Molly and Samantha designed an A La Carte styled menu so customers of The Sip Shack will be able to completely customize “their perfect drink!” This feature adds to the quality and convenience that the business is looking for. Not only do they have a menu for the customers that know exactly what they want, but they have one for the customers who may have no idea what they want, The Barista Specialty Menu. This menu includes pictures that spotlight some of Molly and Samantha’s personal favorite drinks. The Sip Shack will also have weekly specials and introduce new drinks in the future. 

Best of 2021  |  
The Gift Box in Atlanta: Locally made unique gifts

The Gift Box in Atlanta: Locally made unique gifts

The owner of The Gift Box, Kassi Compton, opened the shop after one day when she was having a craft sale and a lady from Atlanta asked her if she wanted to open a gift shop. Initially, Kassi said no to the idea of opening a gift shop, but after some thought she decided to go for it. Her husband came up with the name and it stuck and now The Gift Box has 21 local vendors that provide locally made unique gifts. In fact, one of Kassi’s favorite things about owning The Gift Box is seeing the new boxes of merchandise that the vendors bring in. She says, “It’s like Christmas. I get to open it, put a tag on it and then display it somewhere in the shop. They are all so talented and I love seeing what they create.” 

Best of 2021  |  
Retrospect Salon & Boutique

Retrospect Salon & Boutique

I had an opportunity to ask owner Ashley Hathaway a few questions about her new exciting business.   What inspired you to start your own business?

Best of 2021  |  
Hopedale Agri Center

Hopedale Agri Center

On November 11, 2011, John and Robin Nafziger became the owners of The Hopedale Agri Center. Growing up on a family farm in Hopedale, John was a local that knew a lot about agriculture. Robin grew up only a few miles away in Tremont and attended the same church as John. Graduating from Illinois State with a master’s degree in Agri-Business, John uses his education along with his life-long experience to create special feed blends for all types of livestock based on their age and growth needs. The Hopedale Agri Center also offers a liquid feed supplement. John has done many custom feed blends including family pets, horses, cattle, hogs, sheep, goats, and even rats and mice. John and his Hopedale Agri Center staff always focus on serving their customers and surrounding communities with honesty and integrity. 

Best of 2021  |  
Minier Lanes Bowling Alley

Minier Lanes Bowling Alley

Trevor is a Minier native himself, and has a very strong relationship with the Minier Lanes Bowling Alley. He has witnessed first hand the hard work and dedication that has made Minier Lanes a successful small town bowling alley. Trevor has enjoyed the events hosted at Minier Lanes throughout his childhood, growing up in the town. Trevor is a senior at Olympia High School this year, and received a scholarship to Missouri Valley College to compete for their bowling team throughout college.  “Having a supportive group at the Minier Lanes Bowling Alley has honestly helped lead me to success in my bowling career. I think that growing up in a town with a great bowling alley kind of kick started my passion for bowling. If I was not able to bowl as often as a kid, who knows if I ever would have really gotten into the sport.” 

Best of 2021  |  
White's Farm Equipment

White's Farm Equipment

Based on reviews that have been left on their Facebook page, White’s Farm Equipment is a very popular and customer friendly place to go for any farm equipment needs. Not a single review was left with a rating less than five stars. A few of these ratings left some comments, and all of those comments were very positive towards the business. “Service can’t be beaten anywhere around!” “Top notch people, nice little hometown dealership! If you can’t find it anywhere else, they have it!” “Great people to work with. I will definitely buy from them again.” It is very present that the Waynesville community is extremely supportive of White’s Farm Equipment. 

Best of 2021  |  
Armington Gymnast Places 4th at State

Armington Gymnast Places 4th at State

AnElyse’s competitive gymnastics career began around three years ago. She has been competing in the Xcel Program, a gymnastics program that runs alongside the Junior Olympic gymnastics program. The Xcel Program has different divisions, bronze, silver, gold, platinum, and diamond, compared to the Junior Olympics’ different levels, 1-7. So, the Xcel Program’s divisions correlate with the Junior Olympic levels. Last year, AnElyse had her first competition last year in the Xcel Program’s Gold Division, which corresponds to the requirements of the Junior Olympics’ level four. During this competition she ended up qualifying for state, which was unfortunately canceled due to the Coronavirus pandemic. This year, she also competed as a gold and performed very well. In her first meet this year, she placed 4th on beam. In her second meet of the year, she placed 2nd on beam, 3rd on floor and vault, 4th on all around, and 5th on bars. At her third meet of the year, the Midwest Open, she placed 4th on beam and bars. For her final meet of the year, at state, she placed 4th on beam. AnElyse’s talent has been on full display over the last year. Her mother, Stacey, said “She loves gymnastics and is hoping to move to the Junior Olympics team for the next season.”

Best of 2021  |  
American League MVP Race

American League MVP Race

There is definitely an argument to be made for both Ohtani and Vladdy, but right now the popular opinion is leaning towards Ohtani winning the AL MVP. For a lot of people, the combination of quality hitting and pitching is just too much for Shohei not to win the award. What Ohtani has done in this 2021 season is something that nobody has ever seen before. For a guy to be in the home run race and have a really impressive season pitching on top of that is something that hasn’t even been thought about since Babe Ruth was in the league. Even when mentioning Babe Ruth and how he could also hit and pitch, Ohtani is doing both of them at a level that even Babe Ruth never came close to.  

Best of 2021  |  
Austin Swan

Austin Swan

This year, in football, as a senior, Austin was selected by the class of ‘21 seniors to be a leader for the team. As a leader on the football team, there is a competition within the team. Each leader drafts a team of guys on the team for their “offseason team” and they compete against other leaders’ teams earning points each week. Austin’s team has been doing very well this offseason, with a 3-1 record through four weeks and his team’s only loss was to the first-place team that is 4-0. Austin has already taken on his new leadership role, with a large group of seniors leaving from last season, there were many leadership roles that needed filled. Olympia’s Head Football Coach, Coach Lyons told me, “Austin always does a great job of being more of a quiet leader. He leads by example first. I also see him taking more of a teaching role with some of the younger players.”  

Best of 2021  |  
Adam Swartzendruber

Adam Swartzendruber

In his freshman year, Adam played basketball and baseball for both program’s junior varsity teams. Even just as a freshman, Adam had the attention of his coaches and would quickly make the jump up to varsity, at least in basketball. In Adam’s sophomore year, he still played for the junior varsity team, but was also on the varsity basketball team, one of the few sophomores to earn a spot on the team. Adam even saw a little playing time as a sophomore on the varsity basketball team, a big accomplishment for any underclassmen. In the spring of his sophomore year, COVID unfortunately took away his opportunity to earn yet another varsity letter for the baseball team. 

Best of 2021  |  
Hunter Berges

Hunter Berges

In baseball, Hunter was pitched and played second base for the Spartans. Unfortunately, with COVID canceling his junior year and a knee injury taking him out for most of his senior year, Hunter only had his freshman and sophomore years on the Spartan’s varsity baseball team. As a freshman, Hunter was one of three freshmen to be brought up onto the varsity team. Hunter played a big role in that team winning a regional championship. His sophomore year, Hunter excelled in the pitching side of things, where he was a part of a “three headed monster” pitching attack with his teammates, Andrew Nichols and Ethan Davis. Hunter had some special performances that year, including pitching a shutout against 3A Washington. 

Sponsors
Advertisement 0000022 Advertisement 0000040 Advertisement 0000021 Advertisement 0000049 Advertisement 0000001 Advertisement 0000030

 

Top

Breaking News